Governmental Affairs News
Legislature takes Thanksgiving/hunting break
Legislators headed home this week for a two and a half week break for the Thanksgiving holiday. The break also falls during Michigan’s two-week regular firearm deer hunting season (November 15-30). Session will resume on December 1 and is currently scheduled to go through December 17.
Energy regulation bills move
Last week, the House Energy Policy Committee took a vote on much-debated legislation to overhaul the state’s energy policy and regulations. At the center of the debate is HB 4298, a bill that impacts the electric choice market. The other bill, HB 4297, addresses the environmental energy policy. Advocates of consumer choice, the ability to purchase electricity from an alternative supplier, felt that while HB 4298 does not eliminate the current 10 percent cap, the changes would effectively kill the choice market. Amendments to the bill would require an alternative energy customer that returns to a main utility company to remain with that utility for at least 15 years. If there was an increased cost to the utility to get those customers back online, then the customer would be required to stay with the utility for 20 years.
- Creation of an energy efficiency program
- 30 percent renewable energy and reduction of energy waste by 2025
- Requirements for alternative energy suppliers to address local reliability needs if there is a capacity shortfall
- Financial incentives to companies that reduce energy waste between 1.5-3 percent each year
- The addition of a general taxpayer to the Public Service Commission
- Changes that clean up which types of energy can be considered renewable energy under the renewable portfolio standard by adding biomass and geothermal energy and ensuring that pet coke, hazardous waste, coal waste, and scrap tires are not included
While MRA supports some of the changes in concept, we opposed HB 4298 since we support the choice market. The governor applauded the house committee’s efforts as a step in the right direction to improve energy policy in Michigan. The House plans to approve the bills by the end of the year.
House approves biosimiliars bill
The House Health Policy Committee reported HB 4812 with an H-2 substitute on November 3. The full house approved the bill on November 10 on a 101-5 vote. The bill, as substituted, requires the dispensing pharmacy to notify the prescriber when dispensing a biologic, biosimiliar, or interchangeable biosimiliar drug. Notification may occur by making an entry in an interoperable electronic medical records system, through the use of electronic prescribing technology, through a pharmacy benefits management system, or through a pharmacy records system that is electronically accessible to the prescriber. If those options are not available, the pharmacy may notify the prescriber through a fax, phone call, or electronic transmission. The prescriber receiving information must include the notification in the patient’s record if it is received via fax, phone call, or electronic transmission.
The bill was amended to include a definition of “biosimiliar” and to change some of the requirements regarding notification. However, the bill approved by the House is unacceptable in its current form. MRA is seeking changes to the bill in the Senate to either remove the notification requirement, returning to the language in HB 4437, or allow for more flexibility to use current reporting systems rather than taking additional steps to notify prescribers. The Senate Health Policy Committee is expected to begin discussing the bill when legislators return in December.
Road funding bills signed into law
As expected, the governor signed the road funding bills into law on November 10 at a bill signing at the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association headquarters in Okemos. As we reported last week, the plan relies on $600 million in new revenue based on user fees as well as shifting $600 million in existing revenue towards infrastructure. Some income tax relief is built into the plan. Overall, the plan will generate $1.2 billion for infrastructure repairs by 2021. The bills were signed into law as Public Acts 174-182 of 2015.
Treasury releases Main Street Fairness guidance
Last week, the Michigan Department of Treasury published a revenue administrative bulletin to help advise remote sellers on Michigan’s Main Street Fairness law (PA 553-554 of 2014) that took effect on October 1, 2015. The bulletin addresses which activities are presumed to give a seller a physical presence, or nexus, in Michigan, requiring them to collect and remit the state’s six percent sales tax. It gives several examples of how an out-of-state retailer may gain nexus. Treasury also addresses how long a seller is presumed to have nexus in the state and the filing requirements.
New injury reporting requirements
Michigan business owners should take note of new injury reporting requirements the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) implemented that became effective on September 1, 2015. The new requirements are in response to federal OSHA changes that began on January 1, 2015.
MIOSHA provided the following information on the new requirements:
Employers in the state of Michigan will be required to report any work-related amputation, loss of an eye, or in-patient hospitalization of any employee, within 24 hours of the incident. Currently, employers must report the work-related in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees.
Employers can go to the MIOSHA Recordkeeping website to report an in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye incident or call the new injury report line: 844-464-6742. This system should NOT be used for reporting work-related fatalities. All work-related fatalities must still be reported within eight hours to the current fatality line: 800-858-0397.
Injury and Illness (I&I) Report Processing Instruction
Employee Injury/Illness Incident Report Form
Other important items to note:
- Country of origin labeling: The House Commerce and Trade Committee took testimony on a resolution, HR 184, to encourage the US Senate to pass legislation repealing the country of origin labeling regulations for beef, pork, and chicken. These labeling regulations were imposed by the U.S. and are stricter than country-of-origin labeling on other products like produce. The Committee is expected to vote on the resolution when legislators return in December.
Franchise-employee responsibilities: On Tuesday, the Senate approved SB 492-493, which clarifies when franchise employees are direct employees of that franchisee (whom the franchisee pays wages or benefits to) unless indicated otherwise in the franchise agreement. The bills were referred to the House Commerce and Trade Committee.
Franchise-franchisor relationship: Additional bills that deal with clearly dividing up the franchise-franchisor relationship on minimum wage, contributions and benefits, and responsibilities under OSHA were introduced as HB 5070-5073. The bills were referred to the House Commerce and Trade Committee.
Pharmacy fingerprinting: The governor signed SB 195 into law on November 3 as Public Act 169 of 2015. The bill takes effect on December 3 and would waive the requirement for applicants of a new pharmacy license to submit fingerprints if fingerprints had been taken within the past two years.
OTC prescription drugs: Legislation clarifying exemptions from the state’s sales tax for over-the-counter drugs pursuant to a prescription was signed into law as Public Acts 171-172 on November 3. The bills corrected an oversight that did not exempt the items from the state’s use tax and added a definition for over-the-counter drugs. The bills define OTC drugs as "a drug that is labeled in accordance with the format and content requirements required for labeling over-the-counter drugs under 21 CFR 201.66." The bills are retroactive and effective as of March 14, 2014.
Nursery agent permit repeal: Legislation to repeal the nursery agent permit and associated fee was introduced on November 4 as HB 5054. The bill repeals Section 12 of The Insect Pest and Plant Disease Act (MCL 286.212), which requires permits for anyone selling nursery stock and requires a nurseryman, dealer or grower to maintain records of all agents. The bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee.
America Recycles Day: The House approved a resolution, HR 187, dedicating November 15,
2015as America Recycles Day in the State of Michigan.